The rumbling shook the sleeping boy’s father from his fading half-sleep on the berth of their single-masted sailing boat. Bolting up and looking out the window, his eyes widened as he saw the still waters of the Alaskan inlet churn and rise into a monstrous, debris-strewn wave, easily fifty feet in height and heading straight toward their tiny craft. The father tossed a life preserver at the groggy boy and said, “Son, start praying.”
Aware that they were essentially invading and poaching on enemy land, Corps of Discovery veterans John Colter and John Potts remained hidden during the day in order to escape detection, setting their traps at night and gathering up their proceeds as the following dawn broke. One morning, as the two men canoes up the Jefferson River, they heard a commotion above the elevated riverbank to the east. Colter claimed that the noise was caused by Indians, but Potts insisted it was just buffalo, so they persisted up the river, whereupon they came face-to-face with a party of approximately 800 Blackfoot.
On Saturday, July 25, 1959, USMC Lt. Col. William Rankin and Lt. Herbert Nolan of the US Navy, flying from Weymouth Naval Air Station in Massachusetts to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, encountered an unusually high cumulonimbus cloud, or ‘thunderhead’. As experienced pilots, Rankin and Nolan both knew the unmistakable dangers of the tall, powerful storm clouds; their classic anvil shape and furious natures are commonly associated with pounding rains, destructive winds, and tornadoes. However, having previously confirmed with meteorologists that there was no frontal activity in the area, the two pilots climbed up to 48,000 feet to fly over the isolated storm.
On the night that John Wilkes Booth shot and killed Abraham Lincoln, the legislation to create the United States Secret Service sat on the President’s desk in the White House. At first, the organization primarily pursued counterfeiters, which at the time accounted for as much as 1/3 of all paper bills in circulation, and over time also combated other federal crimes including murder, robbery, and racketeering. After the assassination of President William McKinley in September of 1901—the third Presidential assassination in less than forty years—the Secret Service also undertook the responsibility of providing personal protection for the Chief Executive, his immediate family, and visiting or foreign dignitaries.
In the years before the transcontinental railroad spanned the nation, the quickest and safest method of travel between the west and east coast occurred by sea, with a short land connection across the Isthmus of Panama. On August 20, 1857, newlyweds Ansel and Addie Easton boarded the SS Sonora in San Francisco, bound for Panama; between his burgeoning furniture business and her family inheritance, Ansel and Addie could afford an expensive whirlwind tour to Panama, New York, and eventually Europe. After the Sonora landed, the couple embarked on a short train ride to the Panamanian city of Colon, and then boarded the SS Central America, whose itinerary included a short stop in Havana before heading to its ultimate destination of New York City.
In order to establish the right to vote for women in the United States in 1920, the suffrage movement required 36 of the 48 states to ratify the proposed amendment that read, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The campaign carried a sense of urgency, because if suffrage was not solidified before the Presidential elections in November, the movement would likely lose urgency and wither on the vine. After Maryland voted to decline ratification in February, West Virginia and Washington both approved the measure, but after Delaware declined in June, the number of states agreeing to ratification remained at 35. The suffrage campaign knew that the last vote would be the most challenging; eight southern states consistently expressed definite objection to suffrage, and attempts in Connecticut and Vermont, while home to strong pro-suffrage lobbies, were both stymied by anti-suffrage Governors who had stated that they would refuse to call the vote to their floors. The fate of the suffrage campaign therefore hung solely on the vote of one lynchpin state: Tennessee.
On January 3, 1762, Samuel and Esther Ransom of Canaan, Connecticut, had a son, and they named him after Samuel's best friend and neighbor, George Palmer. In 1773, the family—both parents and eight children, including 11-year-old George—emigrated as part of a widespread migration of Connecticut settlers to what is now northeastern Pennsylvania, settling near the town of Wilkes-Barre in Wyoming Valley. In September 15, 1776, 14-year-old George enlisted with his father and brother-in-law into the 2nd Westmoreland (Wyoming) Independent Company to fight in the American Revolution. His first position there was to bury the dead.
In late 1918, a group of American soldiers from the 102nd Regiment of the 26th "Yankee" Division patrolled the area around their foxholes in the Argonne Forest of northeastern France, near the Belgian border. The density of the woodlands allowed infiltration by spies and reconnaissance troops, so patrols regularly monitored the area for any German presence. Private John Robert Conroy from Connecticut, one of the patrolling soldiers, was unique among the soldiers of the 102nd because when he shipped off to war, he brought his dog, a tiny terrier mix named Stubby. During the patrol, Stubby broke free without warning, and immediately darted off into the underbrush, barking as he went. Conroy and other American soldiers followed him, and when they found Stubby, his jaws were clamped around buttocks of a German infiltrator, who was mapping out the American trenches when he was surprised by the intrepid Stubby. The spy attempted to flee, but Stubby tripped him up by nipping at his heels. The American soldiers quickly disarmed and captured the insurgent, but Stubby reportedly took quite a bit of convincing before he would let go of the man's rear end.
In the mid-1860's, Sonoran mercenaries raided a small Apache town near the US-Mexican border, near what are now the cities of Esqueda, Mexico and neighboring Douglas, Arizona. After slaughtering the captured males, they force-marched many of the surviving women southwest to the Gulf of California. Many of the women died en route, and the raiders sold the rest into slavery where they worked in the fields of a local hacienda.
In a memorable scene from the 1975 movie Jaws, Captain Quint, played by Robert Shaw, tells of his World War II experience on board the USS Indianapolis as it sank in shark-infested waters in 1945. Although the characters in the film were all obviously fictitious, the sinking that Quint described was real, and every inch terrible enough to warrant its inclusion in one of the most horrifying thriller movies ever produced.